I grew up with books. In my house, reading was a good thing. My parents weren't afraid that browsing in the bookshelves flanking our fireplace was a dangerous activity for me. They were proud that I was a reader, like them. So when I began to write I wasn't afraid either. "But when are you going to write a real book?" my friends and acquaintances asked when my first books were published. They viewed books for young readers as something only a woman with a husband and a couple of babies might write as a hobby. Their comments could sting--but they couldn't stop me from writing what came naturally. I identified more with children than with them. Writing allowed me to escape back into the world of childhood which I found more compelling, more honest, than the lifestyle I was expected to embrace in the suburbs, forty-plus years ago. I knew what real books were. I knew how they smelled when they were new and how they smelled when you borrowed them from the library. Inside were stories and characters transporting you to different places, giving you insight into others' lives and your own, making you think, question, laugh and cry.
I never dreamed then that one day we'd be having another discussion about real books. I saw a four year old at a restaurant the other night with an electronic device, pushing buttons as if he was born to the task. I've no doubt he'll learn to read on one electronic device or another and when he does, I'm glad he'll have a choice – not only will he choose what to read but how to read it. I hope he'll read widely, with amazement and joy. I'm glad that my books, should he choose to read them, will be there for him on his e-reader. The story and characters are the same whether you're listening to an audio book, reading on an e-reader, or holding a book between two covers, turning paper pages.
Sure, I hope he gets to visit bookstores and libraries and have the pleasure of browsing and sniffing. And I’ll do all I can to make that a possibility for him. But I’m thankful for every opportunity that brings books and readers together.